29.3 1968: A Turning Point The Vietnam war
January 31, 1968 • At 2:45 a.m., nineteen Vietcong fighters jumped out of vehicles and opened fire on the U.S. Embassy in Saigon • The attackers then blew a hole in the high concrete wall surrounding the compound and the Vietcong poured through the hole and began killing American soldiers
The Tet Offensive • After the attack on the embassy, a series of massive coordinated attacks in South Vietnam began; they were referred to as the Tet Offensive
KheSanh • Increased traffic on the Ho Chi Minh trail suggested a major assault was coming • In January of 1968, thousands of NVA and Vietcong troops struck an isolated military base in KheSanh • This attack was meant as a diversion, the real attacks were to take place in urban areas What is a ‘diversion’?
The Main Attacks • January 30, 1968 • The main Communist offensive begins; this was the start of the Vietnamese New Year • In previous years, a cease-fire had been observed • During the crippling campaign some 84,000 soldiers attacked twelve U.S. bases and more than one hundred cities
Effects of the Tet Offensive • The North Vietnamese hoped the attacks would inspire South Vietnamese civilians, but they did not • Many were left homeless; many were tortured or murdered • We viewed the Tet Offensive as a decisive defeat for the Communists • 45,000 Vietcong and NVA troops died vs. • 1,100 Americans and 2,300 ARVN
Effects of the Tet Offensive • The Tet Offensive showed that the Vietnamese were determined; it shattered our belief that we would soon be winning the war “We have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders . . . for it seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate.” - Walter Cronkite, CBS Television
Democratic Challengers • As Johnson sought re-election, three out four Americans opposed his policies • Democratic challengers began to campaign for the incumbent President’s nomination • Johnson began to grow desperate and decided to try and negotiate with North Vietnam Lyndon B. Johnson “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”
The Fight for the Democratic Nomination Under increasing pressure, Johnson elected to withdraw from the 1968 election - a first for an incumbent President – and three other men began to compete for his place on the ticket. • Hubert Humphrey • Defended the war policies • Eugene McCarthy • Called for a quick end to the war, but had no clear plan for accomplishing this • Robert Kennedy, Jr. • Brother of JFK who also called for a quick end to the war, but was assassinated moments after announcing his bid for the Presidency
Richard Nixon Enters the Race • A divided Democratic Party improved the Republicans chances for winning • Richard Nixon announced his bid for the Presidency • Appealed to American patriotism; promised to restore peace and order and put an end to the Vietnam War Richard M. Nixon
George Wallace Enters the Race • Former governor from Alabama • Staunchly opposed the Civil Rights movement • Ran as an independent; the Democrats hoped he’d take votes away from Nixon and award them the election because most of his support came from wealthy whites George Wallace
And the Winner Is . . . The first one to 270 wins!
Assignment: Interpreting Graphs What effect did the presence of a third-party candidate have on the outcome of the race between the two major party candidates? Explain. How did the electoral vote differ in North Carolina?